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Autism: Much As I Can Handle

For anyone who would have seen me the past few weeks, I believe the general opinion was that I was healthy enough to work. Day after day from early in the morning until later in the afternoon, I was out in the garden, with my girls. I was turning the soil, and pulling the weeds, grass, rocks, and lots of June bugs out of the ground, trying to get the gardens ready for planting.

The work was steady, and repetitive, and took a lot of work – though not a huge amount of focus.

At the end of each day, I was dirty, sore, and exhausted. Yet each morning, as long as the weather cooperated (and to a smaller degree when it didn’t) there I was. Working.

There was this time pressure to complete, as spring was coming fast. Well… it was spring, but… the last frost date, or whatever. We have a short growing season, and this year even shorter as it was a longer winter than normal. So things need to be planted ‘on time’, or so I have read.

Though I study the material, and try every year, I really don’t know what I am doing in the garden. But this task was pretty simple. Dig and flip the soil, crumble it in my hands, remove all weeds, grass, rocks, and bugs that look like they might eat my plants, throw the soil, worms, and ground beetles into the ‘good’ pile.

People walked by and commented, as they do. I tried to reply appropriately, and went back to work.

My ‘girls’ chased anyone passing, and ran through the garden, and very much enjoyed themselves. I gave them the attention they needed, watched for eagles (that live just down the road), fed them on their schedules, ate on mine, and went back to work.

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Unusual to me, I was somewhat thankful for the rainy days, for then we had to stay inside. Perhaps I should have rested then, but there was so much to do inside in preparation for my mother’s arrival, that I was nearly as busy inside as out.

For three weeks I worked hard, and anyone who saw me would likely think I was well enough to get an actual job.

Though it was something I really wanted to do, however, I started to crash at about the 1.5 week mark. By 2.5 weeks, I was really pushing myself. Those last two days I almost didn’t make it through – and had it needed more work, I couldn’t have done it.

Three weeks for a job I liked, that I could do at home with my girls, and where I was mostly alone doing something for myself. Three weeks, and I crashed.

And there lies the problem of seeking another job at this point in my life. I would go into the interview having to prove to the manager that I was the best person for the job (and in the beginning, I just might be.) I would take the job with everyone hoping, and even expecting, that this would last. It would almost be like I was telling them they could count on me – for what else are we really saying when we agree to take on a job?

Yet I would know it was a lie. I would give that job everything, because I can’t give less (for I am always concerned about what people think of me) and I would try really hard to keep going. But, as has been true pretty much my entire life, and certainly from the start of high school at not quite 14 years old, the crash would come.

If it was a particularly good time in my life, and the job was one that suited me well, I might (if not asked for too much change, or too much time, or too much…) last 5 or 6 months before I fell apart. And then, if it was still something I was enjoying, and I was getting along with the people I worked with and for, I might be able to hide the fact that I was crashing from the people at work for a few months more.

At that point, no amount of effort on my part – or incentive from outside – would prevent me from falling apart even there. Meanwhile, the effort would have taken a strong toll on my marriage, my home, and my emotional state.

And that is for a good job, that I want to succeed at.

If it were any less, I would still give my all (for I can’t give less) but I would likely not last a week before I was really struggling, and in less than a month, everyone else would know it.

So here I am, doing the very best I can to take care of my home (which is of top importance for me) and after three weeks of working hard, I am crashing. Thankfully I am at home. This is my work right now. Thankfully, though I could lose the work, and have everything come crashing down around me (it happens) a few days, or even a few months of ‘crashing’ won’t be viewed as a public failure. And that is about as much as I can handle.

Yet I always feel pressure from outside that I should/could be doing more.

 

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Autism: It Is Enough

With the weather nice, and all of this extra energy that I have had for the past 2.5 weeks, I have spent a lot of time in my garden. There is still a lot to do before it is ready for planting, and there is only about a week and a half before it is May.

I am so thankful to have this energy – and for those of you who have been following this blog for a while, you might know it is highly unusual for me. Having energy means that I can get things done, which at other times overwhelm me. It is perfect timing for gardening season. Of course, I have no idea how long it will last, and I might wake up in the morning completely drained – and then not have energy again for months.

All I can do is use what I have, and hope it is enough to carry me through.

Yet… one thing in, for me, means several things left out. True, I have energy – so I can move, and I can keep going, but… Now that I am out gardening all day, I am not practising my keyboard. I am not spending much time on Pinterest. I am not doing the research to plan out how to garden properly. I am not exercising… okay, well I am exercising in the garden, and I am going for walks with my son, but I am not using my elliptical machine while watching documentaries. I am not spending much time cooking or planning my meals – so I am eating quite a lot of lentils lately.

People have always responded to me when I am doing something well as if I should then try to add in something else. For example, when I went to my Psychiatrist and told her I was learning Spanish, and Latin, and practising keyboard. She pretty much dismissed the activities, decided I was okay, and suggested I then go look for work.

The very idea caused me to crash for months, but it isn’t just that. It is always this way. When I am doing well in something, I am doing well in that thing. It is definitely not a good idea to suggest I try doing more. Not only will I fail at the new thing, but whatever I was doing that was good? Yes, I will crash and fail in that as well.

Often busy lives are compared to juggling. Okay, so when I am struggling, I can rarely catch the one ball I am tossing in the air. If I am doing okay, I can juggle that ball, and maybe one other. But while people are watching me juggle the two balls, and see I am doing okay, they automatically want to throw in a third – but then all the balls fall. I can’t do it.

I am not actually good at juggling. I guess it is not a good comparison for me. When I ran my daycare, though, I had these juggling scarves. They would catch the air and float slowly back down. I could juggle two, and sometimes three of the scarves, and really enjoyed doing it.

So trying to continue with this comparison to explain my ability (or disability) to others – it is like typical people are skilled at juggling two or three balls at a time (work, family, friends), where I am maybe able to juggle two or three scarves (blog, Spanish, keyboard.) ‘They’ see me doing okay with my scarves, and try tossing their balls to me to (work, for instance) and everything comes crashing down.

Or I might be able to add in something (gardening) but only at the cost of another (struggling to get my blog written on time, not practising keyboard…)

I am not good with metaphors (is that even the right word?) but I guess what I am trying to say is that I would hope that when I am doing well, rather than trying to add more, people would instead respond to me as if it were a good thing that I was doing well – and leave it at that. Don’t promote. Don’t add to. To be doing well is a huge achievement in itself, and is more than enough for me to work to maintain.

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Autism: Please Don`t Criticize

Aside from the couple of days it rained each week, I have spent most of the past two weeks out in the garden… Well, not exactly most, but for me, something I focus on for 2-3 hours each day is most. That is about as long as I can be active, when my energy is high, without burning out.

The sun has been shining, and my girls have thoroughly enjoyed every minute spent out there. They are even learning to bark less – which is huge! Now, instead of barking from the moment they sense someone coming along the road, until they are out of sight in the other direction, for the most part they are only barking a couple of times at each end of our yard.

Of course, they still chase them from one end to the other (often doing circles and figure eights since they are so much faster than the people waling) but they are quiet for the most part. I am really pleased with their progress since just a couple of weeks ago I was so worried about what the neighbours would think of them, I was considering blocking off the entire stucco wire fence with landscape fabric (probably not the best idea, but the cheapest I could – or I should say, my husband could – come up with.)

A couple of different people who walked by, and saw me in the garden, asked me if I was planting seeds already. From their words I learned that it was too early to be planting in our climate, and I was thankful that was not in fact what I was doing.

Last year, along a section of our fence line, I placed a layer of newspapers and cardboard. On top of this, I put a shallow layer of top soil (it used a lot of bags for just a small amount) and planted wildflowers. Despite how shallow the soil was, the wildflowers grew. They were really pretty. I suppose I could have left that to see how many would regrow this year (from the sprouts that came up this spring, I would assume a lot.)

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That was not the plan, though. Whether I decided to re-seed it with wildflowers, or try to grow something else there, the plan was to go deeper (since the grass would have been mostly killed after being covered so long.) So I have been digging, and pulling weeds, and vines (which seem to be attached to the grass, but are a real issue in the soil) and taking out insects (though struggling with an inability to kill them even though I am pretty sure they are the type that would be bad for the garden) and tossing the many worms back in (with rubber work gloves, of course.)

And that is what I was doing both times the people came by and asked if I was planting seeds already!

I am really glad that isn’t what I was doing. “No. I am just pulling out the weeds and grass,” I told them, and they were satisfied with the answer. Had I been planting seeds, however (as a few say to plant in early April) I would have been so embarrassed by their question that I would have struggled to return to the garden for the rest of the year – and I would have had another meltdown after full of the thought of how much I hate having neighbours.

Maybe it would have been a mistake to plant this early. From their words, I guess it would have been. But it would have been my mistake – and I need to be allowed to make them; on my own, and without comment from other people. I can learn from my mistakes. In fact, I learn best from my mistakes – only all I learn from my mistakes when others comment on me is that I am a failure.

I know I am supposed to be able to learn from criticism. I know it. But I am filled with such shame from the words of others – and for good reason, for I have had way more than my fair share – that all it does is shuts me down, and makes me afraid to try again.

So I am really thankful that what I was doing was something they approved of – for I really have been enjoying my time out there, and would hate to have that taken away.

 

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Autism: Drained of Energy

My head is pounding today, and once more I have no energy. I should have expected it, I guess – but as is usual for me, when I do have good days, I expect them to last. After 40 years, I probably should have learned this isn’t the case for me. Still, it is good to have hope.

For months my energy has been low, even for me. I hardly have the ability to do routine things, like cook and clean, let alone find motivation to add anything to my schedule.

In the last 6 days, I had decent energy for 4 of them. Sunday I was really tired, but I have come to the conclusion (after months of Sundays ending the same way) that church – even when I enjoy it, and feel good there – exhausts me. Every Sunday I am overwhelmed, and exhausted, and prone to meltdowns. I guess that is the cost of being around people.

For four days, though, I had energy. That might not seem like such a big deal for most people, but I keep a ‘mood chart’ which I send to my therapist once a month. This keeps track of how depressed, anxious, and irritated I am each day, along with how much sleep I got, which medications I took, and how much energy I had that day.

The energy section is on a scale of 1-4, with 4 being high. Some days I have taken to putting in 0, as I haven’t the energy to stand, let alone get anything done. Most months I will have several squares marked ‘1’, with more around ‘2’, and the occasional 3. I hardly ever reach 4 for energy; that might come if something exciting was planned, but isn’t even guaranteed for that. I am not a high energy person. Maybe one or two days a month would be marked ‘0’. I just couldn’t.

For the last three or four months however, the pattern looked more like a computer code or something (I don’t know that much about computers, but…) 1-0-0-1-0-1-0-0-0-1-0-1… for months. I was sick twice during that time. Really sick. Well… not hospital sick, but sick enough to think it could kill me. Both times the illness held bad for a couple of weeks, and left me drained after.

It is not unusual for me to have low energy, but this is ridiculous even for me.

And then in the last week, I have had 4 days where I marked ‘3’ on my chart. Four! And I can’t express how good those days felt. I cooked. I cleaned. I exercised. I practised my keyboard. I made a gardening scrapbook. I planted seeds in starter pots. I dreamed.

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How wonderful!

I wonder what it would be like to have energy like that most of the time. Some people do. I know some people do. But I never have. Perhaps if I had energy, I wouldn’t be so depressed all the time… I wonder: Am I depressed because I rarely have energy, or do I rarely have energy because I am depressed?

Even as a child, though, my energy was very low… but then I remember crying myself to sleep every night, too, from the age of about 7 or 8 – so it is possible I was depressed even then.

I don’t know. What I do know is that I had energy this week. I had it, and it felt so good, and I thought that this time I would be able to hold onto it.

Today, however, my head is pounding, and it took me most of the day just to gather the energy to pick up the keyboard sitting on the table right beside me to type this blog. That was all the effort I could manage for today. I wish… I wish I had energy.

 

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Autism: Searching For Talent

This morning I took a 485 question job quiz, hoping to get some idea of what it is I could do. Everyone has to be good at something, right? When I read the free report at the end, however, even their suggested careers were in the “low” category for compatible matches with who I am. Top of that list was motel clerk – which is the job I had last before being put on disability for the severe anxiety I experienced trying to do that job.

I answered all of the questions honestly. I don’t know what went wrong. Perhaps it is my extreme discomfort working with, meeting with, or talking to other people. Maybe it is the fact that I am very emotional, prone to tears, and can’t handle criticism in any degree. Could it be that my vivid imagination is not matched with any creative talent? Or perhaps that while I both see and feel other people’s pain deeply, I am neither able to respond well or help them in any meaningful way.

Whatever the failure of this test, and the multitude I have taken over the years, I am no closer to finding ‘my place’ in this world than when I began. I simply cannot see what I am good at.

Following this test, I went through a list of quizzes to find my ‘hidden talent.’ Though the questions seemed somewhat ridiculous, I was hoping for an “aha” moment that left me with the thought that “I could do that.” Instead the answers all revolved around creativity – painting and knitting (neither of which I am good at.)

Casting aside the knowledge that I have no talent in creative areas save for my imagination (which for the life of me I cannot extract from my mind in any practical way) a creative job, open to criticism, would leave me severely incapacitated for the shear panic such a job would bring. I would be paralyzed. This is possibly the reason I have never been able to get further in creative pursuits: to improve, you must accept criticism of your work, and I can’t. I do know when my work doesn’t meet expectations, but all I hear from the words that should help is, “failure.” I shut down. I just can’t.

On the opposite end are jobs that require precision, accuracy, detail. While I would find comfort in knowing exactly what was expected of me at all moments, my brain is often… scattered, imprecise, unfocused. I know I would make mistakes, and I would always fear them. I beat myself up over mistakes since I am such a perfectionist, and feel shame over them for years after. Such a job, again, would not be suitable due to my anxiety issues.

Taking their idea of motel clerk, at least I have some experience in that. The thing is, though, that I am very awkward. Not at all good at small talk, or dealing with comments or requests outside of the script I wrote for myself in order to do the job, there are limited options to the places where I would get hired in this area. Namely the places where a motel clerk was also required to be a breakfast attendant, housekeeper, pool attendant, and laundry worker all on the same shift. I didn’t have the energy to keep it up, and it quickly burnt me out. Besides, working with the public is not the best position for one easily scared or hurt.

I did enjoy doing the laundry on that job, and even the housekeeping for the rooms where people had checked out without leaving too much of a mess – but with my back pain, feet and legs prone to severe pain, and low energy, it was not something I could keep up long term (or even continue on the demanding pace required in such places.)

While I love spending time with my pets, and they all like me, most jobs involving animals are not real options for me. Pet sitting is out (though I have done and enjoyed it in the past) because I have too many animals in my home to bring others around, and am not at all comfortable in other people’s houses. Kennel attendants, much like motel clerks, require too much interaction with the public, and too much energy in cleaning the kennels. I am not good at training animals, and not at all able to take biology in order to be a vet or assistant (in fact, I failed grade 9 science not being able to go into the room after the biology students due to the strong smell of formaldehyde.

Then there is the fact that I like plants, and trees, and all growing things. But I have never been one of those people who could keep things growing (some things, okay – like my accidental sunflower garden, or the avocado trees that have been growing in my living room from grocery store seeds, but mostly no.) Add to that the energy and physical issues, and the fact that I have bad allergies throughout the growing season, and I really don’t know how I could use that interest for good.

So once again, though I started out with hope that this time some idea would shine forth as true, I am left once more thinking there is nothing I could do. Sad.

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Autism: The Trouble With Sharing

It was my own fault. I saw a question, and I had to answer it. And it isn’t like the people who read it know me – not really know me. They are an online group. So if I don’t follow through, it isn’t like they will come up to me and say, “liar.”

The question? What are your plans for today. An easy enough question. I had a list in my head. I nearly always wake up with a list. It helps me to organize my day, and do something productive.

Today I thought I would:

  • clean the bathrooms
  • wash my husbands clothes
  • vacuum the floors
  • write my blog
  • practice my Spanish
  • practice my keyboard
  • possibly do some shopping since due to car trouble earlier in the week, we now have two vehicles insured for a few months (my husband couldn’t get less than 3 months insurance, or at least, it would have cost more for less time, or something like that.)

It was a good list, I though. A good amount to intend to do – however, the shopping thing… even thinking of going shopping floods me with anxiety, and I am burnt out before I even begin. I know that if I go shopping, I will perseverate on Pinterest or something for the rest of the day, so I have to plan it well.

And then I wrote out my list for ‘all the world to see,’ and it was commented that “wow, you have a lot of energy.” (or not!) That was my list. The blog, Spanish, and keyboard are the easy parts – they require thought, not energy, and not a whole lot of time. Only once I am anxious, it is very hard for me to focus, function, think…

So I wrote my list, and became anxious (now I have to do these things, since I wrote them down. Otherwise it is a lie, right?) And that anxiety left me fixated on Facebook of all places – I go to Facebook for news, and groups, and anything beyond that mostly just annoys me. Facebook is ‘too much’ most of the time. And I was fixated for nearly 3 hours before I could get myself to do anything.

I pushed myself to get up and start the laundry. That had to be done at the very least. I always do my husband’s laundry on Saturdays. The routine helps me to keep up with it – and I know that I struggle to get anything done while he is home on Sundays and Mondays – so Saturdays it is.

The laundry was in, and I was up. I made my lunch, and mixed up some gluten free banana bread (gluten free – that was the topic I had in mind for today, but…) This is the first time I tried making it gluten free, and it is baking as I type. I hope it turns out okay.

Of course, then I sat down again, and my anxiety grew. What was I thinking making a list so long? Only it didn’t seem so long before I wrote it out, because until then, it was only an idea. Now??? How can I possibly get through it all?

I picked up my tablet, and forced myself to practice my Spanish. Ten minutes, or not even – and I do like it. I do. But now I have to do these things, it makes it so much harder for me to actually do them.

With my heart racing, I prayed for calm enough to focus as I started writing this blog. But my mind is pulling me to the book sitting beside me, and I have a strong feeling I won’t get much else accomplished today.

And once again I wish I was more like the little girl I used to be – the one who had so much going on inside, but was mute to the world 99 percent of the time. If no one knew what I was thinking, they would have no cause to doubt me. I think I was wiser as a child, before I tried so hard to be ‘normal.’

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Autism: Learning About Food

It started with a Dogwood bush I purchased a couple of weeks ago. Or perhaps it began when I couldn’t deter one of my cats from using the raised bed as a litter box… Regardless, at some point over the last couple of weeks, I decided on flowers and trees over food for my garden. It isn’t that I didn’t want to grow food, but…

back garden

I think I will like the Dogwood bush, though the main reason I chose it when I went to the garden centre was price. I couldn’t get over the cost of their trees this year. Really, it takes me a very long time to come to terms with inflation, and by then, the prices have gone up again. It makes it very hard for me to buy anything.

Something like nine years ago, I bought most of my fruit trees, for example. I paid $20 each for them, which was about normal. Now, however, those same size trees are more like $40-$50 – how can prices double in just nine years? It doesn’t even seem like that long.

Even the Lilacs I paid $10 for a few years ago, are now $15-$20. Unreasonable, I think, as wages haven’t anywhere kept up with these inflated prices – not that I am working at this time, but still.

Anyway, I had the desire to grow food, preserve it, learn to live on less somehow – but I haven’t really the energy for it. More, I don’t have the energy (or concentration) to learn how. I spend my time researching, and by the time I am able to do something, I am too tired to do it.

So I planted the Dogwood bush along with some wildflowers. I imagine I will enjoy the garden when it comes up. I think that even my husband will like it. It won’t look like everyone else’s garden in the neighbourhood, but I am more of a meadow/forest person than a perfectly manicured lawn person anyway. I hope that it grows well.

Meanwhile, I have decided instead to take the advice given by readers in some of my earlier posts to try to learn to preserve food I have bought from the store, or the market, instead of doing all the work from the seed to the table. It is less to learn, for sure, and maybe I can be successful in them.

I have been spending hours on Pinterest, and looking at the links, trying to figure out what foods I would like best (and that my stomach and mind can handle) and hoping to have the energy to follow through and make them.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could just pull something from a picture into reality, and try it that way… I never said that my imagination was realistic – but I have often wanted to possess this ability.

I have a thought that I will probably regret not planting tomatoes this year. I am the only one in my house that likes them, so we almost never buy them, and somehow store bought tomatoes leave a lot to be lacking. But then… cats. I love my cats, but it would be nice if they wouldn’t use my garden for…

Anyway, the plants are in, and I am waiting for them to grow. I hope I use the time this spring and summer well to learn more what foods I can eat (that will leave me feeling good, as most food doesn’t,) how to make inexpensive meals for myself that don’t take a lot of time (for I still need to cook for my husband and son, who will not eat like I do) and perhaps even learn to preserve food, so that when I do grow my food garden, I will be well educated in what to do when the harvest comes in.

I think that is more than enough of a goal for me for this year. Even that seems exhausting, but I will do my best.

 

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Autism: Low Energy

This low energy I am experiencing… it seems new, this need to lie on the couch day after day, but the truth is, I have always struggled with energy.

I remember as a young child, walking home in the snow. While other children were running, and playing, I was struggling with every step. I thought it had to do with my feet, as my legs were always sore due to being born with severe club feet. But when others ran, I wanted to sit, or struggled to keep up. The energy just was not there.

It wasn’t just about play time, either. Eating was an activity that seemed to require a whole lot of energy. I remember the days when it seemed to take hours to finish an apple, and how draining the activity was. I still prefer cooked apples over fresh for the energy it takes to eat them.

Before my son was born, when I was living with his father, I spent day after day sitting on the bed. Though I hated the mess, it weighed on me until I could not move, and he considered me lazy. But to be lazy, one would have to have the energy, and refuse to use it. I wanted to move, but it was like trying to run through water – the world seems to push back against me.

When my son was about a year old, I began babysitting my young cousin. Always I had wanted many children, yet with just the two of them, I was too worn out to even be able to think. I would sleep when they did, and struggle to stay awake when they were awake. Not a good situation for someone taking care of two babies, and I am still surprised the three of us survived it.

Through my life, I have had moments of energy, but they never lasted long. I had days as a child where I would walk with my brother for miles… but I think it was his energy that kept me going, as I didn’t want to be left behind.

For my son’s first year, I walked six hours a day – but his father didn’t want us around, and I just had to get out of the house. Again, not my energy, but born out of necessity. For the next two years, I battled exhaustion (along with depression,) until I was accepted into college.

At that time, the buses were on strike, and I had to walk up the escarpment to get to school, which I did every day for a month in the cold and in the snow. I went to school, and studied hard. I got good grades, and made it through… but I almost didn’t. The only thing that kept me going through the burnout was the thought that at the end of the course, I would be able to stay home with my son.

And then I ran my daycare – but I didn’t have energy then. I was constantly tired, and seeking ways to keep going. That was why the two hour nap time was essential, and on some days… lots of days, really, I fell asleep along with the children. Not good, I know. Low energy.

When I had my children, I did my very best – but the energy issue meant that I would have days where I could hardly cope. Not in response to the children, but in being able to move at all.

It is like those dreams… the ones I have so often, where even though I know I am asleep and dreaming, my exhaustion is so encompassing that I can’t even keep my eyes open in my dreams. So tired.

So it really makes sense that any struggle – be it illness, depression, a side-effect of medication… – all will lead to such exhaustion that I can’t get up, and can’t even think. That is where I have been for the past month, but to be honest, it isn’t a whole lot different than how I have felt my entire life.

Is it therefore any wonder that I burn out so quickly when I am working, or that I fail so often in all I try to do?

So tired. I hope I find energy soon.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2016 in Experiences of an Autistic

 

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Autism: Who Am I Really?

Today my energy is very low, and I am wondering if my thoughts on gardening, preserving food, and living a more self-sustaining lifestyle are actually practical for me to consider.

My dreams are vast, inspiring, and active – but my life has never followed that pattern. Again I find myself seeking… always seeking, to be someone I am not.

I can do some basic sewing, and can prepare crafts for preschool age children, but I am not the type of person who can just pick up some materials, and make something beautiful. I want to be that person, but it is not who I am. I am a dreamer. I like the pictures, the smells, the decorations… but outside of my own thoughts, I cannot bring these things to reality. I want to be able to, but, that is not who I am.

During the darker months of winter, I find myself designing and dreaming over a vast fruit, herb, and vegetable garden. In the spring, I want to plant. The desire is deep within me. However, once summer hits (along with the heat and horrible allergies) I battle against going outside. My energy is too low, and the grass and heat make it difficult to breathe.

While I can grow some things – sunflowers, pumpkins, tomatoes – I really don’t know what I am doing (or have the energy to keep up) in order to grow much of my food needs for the year. I wish I could. It seems like a worthy goal – but it isn’t who I am.

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Perhaps I could learn to garden, and I think I would like to, but do I have the energy to keep it up? I never have in the past.

When autumn is coming near, and the leaves start to fall, I dream of a pantry full of canned fruits and vegetables that I have preserved from my own garden. I can imagine myself going in to choose my foods throughout the winter, and I feel content within my dream. But canning my own food would mean I would have to spend the time learning how to both garden, and safely preserve the food. While I might be able to learn how through a course taken with others, having to go out to learn among others would be so exhausting, I likely wouldn’t follow through.

At this time, I own three cats and a dog. I am an animal lover – that is not just a dream – but when I ache to own sheep, goats, chickens, llamas… I see myself playing with them. I know intellectually they are a lot of work to care for, and still I long for them.

I have had many rabbits and guinea pigs in the past. Even they were more work than I had energy for. I did love having them – but for me, who has always had such low energy, is it practical to dream of having more?

In my mind, I have such beautiful ambitions, such wonderful ideas – yet they do not line up with who I am. I am a dreamer, and unless I can find a way to bring those thoughts into reality (without going against who I am, for then I will only fail again) I really ought to just stay true to the person that I am.

So maybe instead of praying for a life apart – private land, large gardens, huge pantry… I should instead be seeking a way to decrease my expenses, while also decreasing my workload, in order to function within the level of energy I have been given – which is incredibly low.

How do I pull away from this lifestyle of always trying to do more, to push myself as people have often told me to do – when a lot of the time, it takes all of my effort just to get out of bed in the morning. How do I turn from what I believe others expect of me, and who I thought I should have been, and allow myself to be who I really am?

And who am I, really?

 

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